As you know, m'lady, the harsh lands of Itjivut are not the most open of places to us. The Hiafae are mistrustful of mainlanders at best, and the Rafandi camps, while open, are difficult to locate in the frozen tundra. Information on either is limited even in the realm of basic customs, let alone on their style of warfare. With the passing of Gifre's incursion into Hiadref, however, we have our first glimpses of Itjivut's art of war.
You've already heard the reports of magical ice and giants hurling men disguised as boulders, so you know that both sides used unconventional tactics in that battle. What you may not know are the economic reasons behind these tactics. It is worth noting that, unlike our prosperous kingdom of Adeluna, Itjivut's people do not have ready access to timber. Their forests are sparse, unable to flourish in the island's stark wilderness. Understandably, this means many of the siege weapons we are able to construct are simply untenable for the elves.
Even so, the Hiafae are no less brutal in the face of their deficiency. They prefer to use their timber on trade, building ships to ferry their reis and other goods to market or sleighs to trade with the Rafandi. The only implement of war that they do use wood for is their bows, and these, according to our magical researchers, are enchanted with elven magics that prolong their usefulness.
Today, arrows from the island are constructed out of bone from beast and humanoid alike rather than timber. The Hiafae don't seem to care if they plunder their ancestors' skeletons to get these materials, and there is actually a sentiment among their people that the eldest relish in the idea of being useful even after death. Regardless, the materials are just as sharp as anything you could find in our armies. While there is a shortage of timber, there's no shortage of ore on the island, so only the shafts of the arrows are composed of bone while the tips are made of a metal just as hard and sharp as any mainland steel.
Most Hiafae combat revolves around a combination of these arrows and sleighs drawn by snow wolves. Siege is virtually unheard of in the wastes - simply because of the scarcity of food - so skirmishes consist mainly of hit and run tactics. The elves favor mobility over stalwart attack: striking and then disappearing into the snow before they can be countered.
That is not to say that siege never occurs, of course. On such rare occasions, Hiadref is often the target of these attacks because it is the only known, walled city on the entire island. As a result, the Hiafae living within its borders have constructed a form of liquid ice to repel any such invasions. The substance is highly unstable, and has to be stored in warded cauldrons much like how our boiling oil must be stored in pewter cauldrons. But, the Ice Floe – as we call it – is just as effective if not more so than that same oil. As a liquid, it can flow freely into the joints of any contraption, and it has a delayed freezing effect as well. Reports from those who returned from Gifre's incursion illustrate how just two cauldrons of the liquid were able to completely disable a reinforced ram constructed by the orcs. The entire crew was frozen over in seconds, as were the joints and entrances to the ram itself.
I would hazard a guess that this Ice Floe is only one siege tactic in the Hiafae arsenal, but, by far, the most formidable. We don't know the recipe for this magical liquid, but some of our soldiers say they saw hundreds of cauldrons leftover even after Gifre's Ram was taken out. It can be assumed that the elves are capable of mass producing the substance, which should scare any sailor that happens to come across the Hiadref Navy.
-Lyndrel Agrippa, Chief Scholar of Queen Qendresa I